Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold has delivered a brutal appraisal of his club’s struggles in recent years, meeting directly with disgruntled fans at a pub.
In secretly-filmed footage, Arnold told fans last season was a ‘nightmare’ and said he “was hating every game” – and he lamented the club’s awful transfers in recent seasons, lamenting the way the club “f***ing burned through cash.”
After protests against the club hierarchy and particularly owners the Glazer family throughout the season, a group of fans reportedly planned to protest outside Arnold’s home.
Instead, Arnold made the surprise decision met the supporters at a local pub to discuss their grievances – and share their pain at the team’s worst ever Premier League campaign.
Discreetly-filmed footage of Arnold was shared by fans on social media, showing Arnold pulling no punches about his team’s years of pain.
Arnold told the supporters: “We spent a billion pounds on players, more than anyone in Europe.
“I’m not thrilled where we are. It doesn’t sit easy, I worry how we get this sorted for the future. What’s happened is we have f****** burned through cash.
“You can’t go to our training ground and say: ‘Show me where the £1 billion is’ because I don’t think we’ve spent money well historically.
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“I’m not here to defend (chairman) Joel (Glazer). He must speak for himself. I wanted to talk to you, you have taken the time to come here and make your views known – and I respect that. We’ve blown through an enormous amount of money.”
He claimed newly-appointed manager Erik ten Hag would be backed financially in the transfer window, with superstars like Paul Pogba departing and rivals like Manchester City and Liverpool making big-money signings.
“For this summer, the money the manager and the director of football [John Murtough] wants is there. For the future, investing in a new stadium and to do a latest-and-greatest £250 million training ground, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to get investors in. I need that to do what I want for the club.
“I’ve got to have more cash than we have now. No club in the world has the money to do a new stadium without getting it from someone. No one generates that, you either borrow it or someone invests it. We’ve got a £1 billion mortgage.
“The money’s got to come from somewhere, and you may not like our current owners, I can’t help that. But if you want someone else to come in, they have to look and say: ‘Okay their fans love the club and they love the team, it’s positive.’
“I look at last year as af****** nightmare. It was a nightmare. I was hating every game. It was a couple of things. One, the protests…” he added before the video cut out.
A spokesman for the club subsequently told Sky Sports: “Richard heard that a group of fans had gathered in a pub near his house
“He went to meet them, bought them all a drink, listened to their views, and explained what the club is doing to deliver success on the pitch, improve the stadium, and strengthen engagement with fans.”
For a club that has built a reputation of not communicating well with its fans – especially under controversial owners – Arnold’s move was remarkable and worthy of praise.
But the club will be judged first and foremost on results this season, after five long years without a trophy.
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